MOUNT VERNON, Ill. — Continental Tire the Americas is adding capacity for precured tread rubber at its tire plant in Mount Vernon, allowing it to cut delivery times to its ContiLifeCycle retread customers in the U.S.
Up to now, Conti has supplied its licensed retread partners from a plant in Morelia, Mexico, where capacity was expanded in 2015 to meet growing demand for the company's retreads.
Conti did not disclose the scale of the capacity being installed nor its investment in the production line, which is expected to reach commercial-scale operation by the end of the first quarter. The plant in Morelia has an annual capacity of 9,500 metric tons.
"Producing ContiTread retread rubber in the heartland of the United States allows us to be closer to our customers and make products available even faster to our ContiLifeCycle retread partners," Paul Williams, Continental's executive vice president of commercial vehicle tires in the Americas region, said.
Williams noted that the ContiTread products use many of the same compounds as new tires produced at the Mount Vernon plant, which operates one of the largest rubber mixing facilities in North America.
"Continental continuously strives for best-in-class performance. The cornerstone of this performance is commitment to outstanding quality," said Catherine Loss, Continental's head of retread worldwide.
"The team has worked tirelessly to ensure the first treads out of our Mount Vernon…plant are exactly what our customers need and expect from the ContiTread brand," she added. "Quality is where we began the project, and a consistent quality mindset is what will continue to drive our future."
The first tread patterns being produced at the Mount Vernon plant will be ContiTread HDL EcoPlus, HDL and ContiTread HDR1.
HDL EcoPlus and HDL are long-haul drive patterns. The HDL EcoPlus is designed to deliver low rolling resistance balanced with mileage, while the HDL is more focused on regional applications.
The HDR1 is a regional drive pattern with an open-shoulder design for enhanced wet and dry traction.
The new production line—housed in a new structure built adjacent to the Mount Vernon passenger tire factor—is undergoing a start-up phase, during which each tread pattern must be measured and reviewed by the company's research and development team before they can be released into the market, Conti said.
At last report, there were 26 ContiLifeCycle retread plants operating in North America, including three that opened in 2017.